Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey

Esta entrada es bilingüe, desplazarse hacia abajo para ver la versión en castellano

2010 Random House Trade Paperback Edition. 336 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8129-7936-7.

Detective Inspector Darko Dawson works at the Criminal Investigation Department CID Headquarters in Ghana, a specific branch of the Ghana Police Service. He is assigned to the homicide division. He has a wife, Christine and a six year old son, Hosiah who has a congenital heart disease. The only true cure is surgery but Dawson’s insurance only covers basic medical care. Dawson and his wife are saving money but they are nowhere close to the required amount.

One day a young woman is found dead under suspicious circumstances in a forest near Ketanu, a small rural town in the Volta Region, about 160 kilometres away from Accra. Her name was Gladys Mensah, a promising third year student in a medical school and a volunteer worker for the Health Service AIDS programme in the region.

The Minister of Health personally wants an Accra CID to be in charge of the investigation and DI Dwason seems the right man for the job. His mother was Ewe and he is fluent in the local language. (From Wikipedia: Ghana has a population of about 24 million people, more than 100 different ethnic groups and, although English is the official language, there are 79 local languages).

This will not be an easy assignment for Dawson. A man prone to lose his temper. The local head of police has already decided who is the culprit and only wants to extract from him a confession by any means. Besides Dawson’s sensibilities will clash with a disturbing traditional practice in which teenage girls are offered to fetish priests as trokosior wives of gods. And he must also overcome ghosts from his past. When he was twelve years old his mother disappeared on her way home from a visit to her sister in Ketanu.

Wife of the Godsis an interesting police procedural that shows the life and customs of a traditional African village. The story is well developed and the characters seem credible and are well drawn. I was most interested in the confrontation between the traditional and the modern world, between urban and rural areas but at the end I had the sense that the story was too schematic in its approach and somewhat simplistic in the final development. However it was quite an entertaining read.

I read this book to cover the African leg for the 2011 Global Reading Challenge, hosted by Dorte.

Kwei Quartey was born in Ghana, the son of a Ghanaian man and an African-American woman. When his father died, he moved to the United States with his mother and he is now a practicing physician in California. In researching his book, he looked at all aspects of the culture, including the trokosi. Although the practice has been outlawed, it has not disappeared because many in Ghana still believe in the power of the chiefs and high priests. The media has made known practices that violate human rights but the trokosis have yet to come to light in the main stream media

Wife of the Gods has been reviewed by Glenn at International Noir Fiction and by Bernadette at Reactions to Readingamong others.

Wife of the Gods (Trokosi) de Kwei Quartey

El Detective Inspector Darko Dawson trabaja en la sede central del Departamento de Investigación Criminal CID, una rama específica del Servicio de Policía de Ghana. Está destinado en la división de homicidios. Él tiene una esposa, Christine, y un hijo de seis años de edad, Hosiah que tiene una enfermedad cardíaca congénita. La única cura que tiene es pasar por el quiròfano pero el seguro de Dawson sólo cubre la atención médica básica. Dawson y su esposa están ahorrando dinero, pero sus ahorros no llegan a alcanzar la cantidad requerida.

Un día una joven es hallada muerta en circunstancias sospechosas en un bosque cercano a Ketanu, un pequeño pueblo rural en la región de Volta, a unos 160 kilómetros de Accra. Su nombre era Gladys Mensah, un prometedora estudiante de tercer año en la escuela de medicina y una voluntaria del Servicio de Salud del programa de SIDA en la región.

El propio Ministro de Salud quiere que un detective de Accra se haga cargo de la investigación y el detective Dwason parece el hombre adecuado para este trabajo. Su madre era Ewe y domina el idioma local. (De Wikipedia: Ghana tiene una población de alrededor de 24 millones de personas, más de 100 grupos étnicos diferentes y, aunque el Inglés es el idioma oficial, hay 79 idiomas locales).

Pero esta no será una tarea fácil para Dawson. Un hombre propenso a perder los estribos. El jefe de la policía local ya ha decidido quién es el culpable y sólo quiere extraer de él una confesión, por cualquier medio. Además la sensibilidad de Dawson va a chocar con una práctica tradicional preocupante según la cual jóvenes adolescentes se ofrecen a los hechiceros como trokosi o esposas de los dioses. Y finalmente Dwason tiene que superar los fantasmas de su propio pasado. Cuando tenía doce años, su madre desapareció al volver a casa después de hacerle una visita a su hermana en Ketanu.

Wife of the Gods (Esposa de los Dioses) es un procedimiento policial interesante que nos muestra la vida y costumbres de un pueblo tradicional africano. La historia está bien desarrollada y los personajes parecen creíbles y están bien dibujados. Yo estaba más interesado en el enfrentamiento entre el mundo moderno y el tradicional, entre las zonas urbanas y las rurales, pero al final tuve la sensación de que la historia era demasiado esquemática  en su planteamiento y un tanto simplista en su desarrollo final. Sin embargo ha sido una lectura muy entretenida.

He leído este libro para cubrir el tramo africano en el Desafío Global de Lectura 2011, organizado por Dorte.

Kwei Quartey nació en Ghana, su padre era de Ghana y su madre es Afro-americana. Cuando su padre murió, se mudó a los Estados Unidos con su madre y ahora es un médico que ejerce en California. En la investigación para escribir este libro, estudió todos los aspectos de la cultura, incluyendo a las trokosi. Aunque esta práctica ha sido prohibida, no ha desaparecido debido a que muchos en Ghana todavía creen en el poder de los jefes y de los hechiceros. Los medios de comunicación se ha hecho eco de aquellas prácticas  que violan los derechos humanos, pero las trokosi no han aparecido todavía en los principales medios de comunicación.

The Alphabet in Crime Fiction, Q is for Quartey, Kwei Quartey

Esta entrada es bilingüe; para ver la versión española desplazarse hacia abajo

The Alphabet in Crime Fiction, a Community Meme hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise, has arrived this week to the letter “Q”. Click HERE to see the contribution of other fellow participants to this week’s Crime Fiction Alphabet.

My “Q” is for Quartey. Dr. Kwei Quartey was born in Ghana and raised by an African American mother and a Ghanaian father, both of whom were university lecturers. Even though his professional writing career began after he became a physician, his desire to be a writer started at a very early age. Kwei Quartey now lives in Pasadena, California. He writes early in the morning before setting out to work at HealthCare Partners, where he runs a wound care clinic and is the lead physician at an urgent care centre. As a writer, he is the author of Inspector Darko Dawson mystery series:

Wife of the Gods (Random House, 2009).

Synopsis from the publisher: In a shady grove outside the small town of Ketanu, a young woman—a promising med student—has been found dead under suspicious circumstances. Eager to close the case, the local police have arrested a poor, enamoured teenage boy and charged him with murder. Needless to say, they are less than thrilled when an outside force arrives from the big city to lead an inquiry into the baffling case.
Detective Inspector Darko Dawson, fluent in Ketanu’s indigenous language, is the right man for the job, but he hates the idea of leaving his loving wife and young son, a plucky kid with a defective heart. Pressured by his cantankerous boss, Dawson agrees to travel to Ketanu, sort through the evidence, and tie up the loose ends as quickly and as efficiently as possible. But for Dawson, this sleepy corner of Ghana is rife with emotional land mines: an estranged relationship with the family he left behind twenty-five years earlier and the painful memory of his own mother’s sudden, inexplicable disappearance. Dawson is armed with remarkable insight and a healthy dose of scepticism, but these gifts, sometimes overshadowed by his mercurial temper, may not be enough to solve this haunting mystery. In Ketanu, he finds that his cosmopolitan sensibilities clash with age-old customs, including a disturbing practice in which teenage girls are offered by their families to fetish priests as trokosi, or Wives of the Gods.

Children of the Street (Random House, 12 July 2011).

Synopsis from the publisher: In the slums of Accra, Ghana’s fast-moving, cosmopolitan capital, teenagers are turning up dead. Inspector Darko Dawson has seen many crimes, but this latest string of murders—in which all the young victims bear a chilling signature—is the most unsettling of his career. Are these heinous acts a form of ritual killing or the work of a lone, cold-blooded monster? With time running out, Dawson embarks on a harrowing journey through the city’s underbelly and confronts the brutal world of the urban poor, where street children are forced to fight for their very survival—and a cunning killer seems just out of reach.

Men of the Rig (2012). This is Kwei Quartey’s third novel in the Inspector Darko Dawson mystery series coming 2012.

For additional information click at Kwei Quartey website and Random House.

Read an interview with Kwei Quartey at MyWeku.

I became interested in Wife of the Gods ever since I spotted this book for the first time and I’m planning to read  it for the African leg of the 2011 Global Reading Challenge. Stay tuned.

Wife of the Gods has been reviewed by Glenn at International Noir Fiction and Bernadette at Reactions to Reading among others.

El Alfabeto del Crimen, Q es por Quartey, Kwei Quartey

El Alfabeto del  Crimen, un meme organizado por Kerrie en Mysteries in Paradise, llega esta semana a la letra “Q”. Haga clic AQUÍ para ver las contribuciones para esta semana del resto de participantes.

Mi “Q” es por Quartey. El Dr. Kwei Quartey nació en Ghana de madre afroamericana y padre ghanés, los dos profesores universitarios. A pesar de que su carrera profesional como escritor se inició después de dedicarse a la medicina, desde muy joven quería ser escritor. Kwei Quartey vive en la actualidad en Pasadena, California. Escribe a primera hora de la mañana antes de incorporarse a su trabajo en HealthCare Partners, donde dirige una clínica de primeros auxilios y es el médico principal en el centro de urgencias. Como escritor es autor de la serie protagonizada por el Inspector Darko Dawson: Wife of the Gods (Random House, 2009), Children of the Street (Random House, a la venta a partir del 12 de julio de 2011) y Men of the Rig (2012), la tercera novela protagonizada por el Inspector Darko Dawson que saldrá a la venta en el 2012. Para más información haga clic en el página web de Kwei Quartey (en inglés). Me interesé en Wife of the Gods desde el primer momento que vi el libro. Tengo la intención de leerlo proximamente para el Desafío Global de Lectura 2011. Permanezcan atentos.

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